Saturday, November 27, 2010

I love a good challenge...

Sadie from RitIC sent out this challenge, and you know how I like a challenge...

The Challenge:
A lawyer, a mixed martial arts champion and a drag queen all came to Thanksgiving at my house.Punch line to be named later...I will tell you there was one bloody lip...One really drunk person...One person sleeping on the sofa...A lot of spilled drinks....and no one had a nose ring. 250 words or less. Go BIG.

(I cut as much as I could, but 250 words or, no. Also, this is in no way autobiographical...we had our own share of TDay madness, but nothing like this.)

The cheese by-product was squeezed into celery, and the rolls weren’t burned. The kids were somewhere in the house, frying their brains with video games and possibly Scotchguard. The smell of pies wafted through the house like so many memories of calories past.

I bustled around the house, kicking socks under the couch and hiding just-now-occurring-to-me-to-be tacky items in closets I hoped no one would open. I was feeling the strain of the day, and as I rounded the corner, my slippers (don’t judge) caused me to skid a little as I went around the corner. I thought briefly of my frazzled hair and pre-Thanksgiving lack of dieting and compared myself to the short, fat cartoon witch who sheds hairpins and a cackle at every corner she takes. I took a slug of my wine (Again, with the judging). I cackled my best impersonation of the witch to myself, just because I had already been in the wine. My beloved looked around the wall from where he lay on the couch and gave an odd look and a shake of his head. The look said “woman, you have got a lot of layers..”

The doorbell rang and I whirled around and raced to the door. When I opened it, there stood my old college boyfriend Charlene (formerly Charlie), holding a foil wrapped ham under his arm like a football, and decked out in some manner of printed mu-mu and a fabulous hat...and beard. He followed me into the kitchen where I refilled my empty glass of wine as if it were my first..or, second.   I perched upon a kitchen stool and ignored that weird burning plastic smell. I was developing a bit of a alcohol-induced lean and told myself I would slow down on the refills. I took a long slug and said,  “So Charlene... how’s tricks?”

I was showing Charlene my skidding, cackling witch impersonation when the doorbell rang. It was odd, since Charlene was to be our only guest. I went to the door and peered out the glass. Peering back at me was what can only be described as a man-gorilla. He wore a TAPOUT T-shirt (which I recognized from the redneck channel) and was covered in muscles. I could further see that he had no neck and the bridge of his nose had decided to retire. He had his head cocked to the side and looked impatient.  He had one cauliflower-ed ear pressed near the jam of the door, listening to me breathing on the other side.  Eek... I opened the door a crack, as if he couldn’t break the entire thing down with one shove. “Y-y-yeesss?” I inquired meekly. “Lady, lemme in. I gotta eat dinner with your sick kid..”. ???  My sick kid? I let the giant into the foyer where, as he explained the Make-a-Wish program, I considered the ways in which my very healthy son would become terminal...after I finished this wine.

My son was like a schoolgirl around “Hans the Destroyer”.  I couldn’t bring myself to explain what was so wrong with my parenting that my son would lie about such a thing, so I filled up my wine glass again and thought.... F.... it. It could have been the wine talking.  The weird smell was still lingering, but the food was all done so I went to get my beloved off of the couch to carve the bird.
My husband wouldn’t wake up. I shook, prodded, cajoled and even cursed and nothing. Well, snoring, but nothing concrete. I even told him there was a topless model joining us, but he said he didn’t care to see Charlene’s nipples...again. Fine. FINE....!

I asked Hans to carve the turkey, but instead he just ripped it apart with his bare hands. It was mesmerizing, if not a little unsanitary. The sheer force of ripping off the legs sent all of the drinks flying (luckily, I had switched to drinking out of the bottle(s)). A bit of medical drama occurred when Hans and my son shared the wishbone and my son tugged so hard he punched his own nose.  Hans said he knew just what to do and made my son sit on a stool in the corner, stuffed a couple of tampons up his nostrils and made him rinse his mouth with water and spit in a bucket. Problem solved. We all got a hunk of meat and threw some instant mashed potatoes and other crud on the fine Chinet.  

While we ate and I cackled some more, I heard the doorbell ring again. What the hell? I stumbled over to answer it and there stood an uptight looking fellow in a suit. I slammed the door and went back to the table. My guests looked at me quietly. “ I mUsH bE dRuNk..” I slurred. “ThErE’s a LaWyEr OnA fRoN pOrSh...”

The whole table busted out laughing and shaking their heads. They knew I was drunk; no one invited a lawyer to their Thanksgiving....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On Being Thankful...

Sesame Street Thanksgiving
Wow, that is one BIG BIRD...

I tried to find a font that was the most like a Pilgrim, but no such luck. Pilgrims wrote in chicken poo with a big feather. Would that be Script?

The things I am thankful for include, but are certainly not limited to:

(In no particular order)
 - The squirrels I brought into this world. May they continue to remind me of what really makes me happy, and that sarcasm is genetic.

 - Newspapers. Online just won't cut it for everything. I want to feel paper.

 - A sense of humor. Everyone should get one.

 - Special Agent, who tolerates my many layers, and even appreciates and encourages a few of them.

 - Working (and some days not working) from home

 - Epidurals - I feel compelled to say this, even 10 and 7 years later.

 - Starbucks Chai Tea Latte. Addiction to caffeine is my most rewarding vice.

 - GOOGLE! ( I love thee)

 - Family - the blessing and curse of living in the same town mostly leans to the blessing side. 

 - Changing your mind - because sometimes the road forks, and you chose incorrectly.

 - Online bill pay, because paying bills in one click is like ripping the band aid off quickly..

 - The Pioneer Woman, who is my cooking obsession right now. It would be considered stalking, except she already has a bazillion followers.

 - The opportunity to have a glass of wine at lunch. We could learn a lot from the Europeans.

 - Differing opinions - how boring would this world be without variety? It is the spice of life, I'm told.

 - Good friends - The ones who know it all and like me anyway.  We are our own inside joke that only we get.

 - DVR/TIVO - Because life doesn't stop for Grey's Anatomy, and neither can I.

 - Facebook (you heard me...) Any medium that brings people, ideas and information together in one fell swoop can't be all bad. If FB is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

 - Tolerance. May it grown as large as our national debt.

 - Ice cream there anything better than hearing the music and having cash in your pocket?

 - INFORMATION - Research is my religion. For every question, there is an answer, even if that answer is 'no one knows for sure". But we keep trying.  

 - Thanksgiving - because it is like Christmas, without all of the hullabaloo
Please to enjoy..
I recently heard some good words from comedian Louis CK about the good old days, and how maybe our expectations are too high at times. I tried to get the actual clip, but it was unavailable to me (so I am not thankful for NBC's copywriting at this moment). But Louis CK has some funny and true words in his monologue of "Everything's fine, nobody is happy", which he discusses on Conan. Have a listen. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Special Agent's Rules for Manly Manliness (as observed by the Onion)

Note that our specimen wears no turtleneck, pants or jewelry.
His barber must be booked through the holidays.

While no formal list exists, my husband maintains a basic list of personal rules for manly men, to include:

1.  No turtlenecks or sweater vests. Nyet.

2.  No drinking from straws (exception - fast food cups which come with a lid..sometimes.)

3. No jewelry except wedding rings, watches and cuff links. Don't even THINK of wearing a bracelet.   
    Hemp or puka shell necklaces are verboten. No, no, no.

4.  When possible, men should have their hair cut by a barber, (where fishing is discussed) and not in a salon.

5.  No matter the weather, no umbrellas. Ever. You will get wet. You will not mind.

6. No perfume.  That means cologne too. I think aftershave in small quantities made the cut.

7. No putting lotion on your hands. Soft hands are not manly.

These are rules I had never thought of as specifically unmanly and they cracked me up as I learned them. However, I have become a subscriber over the years.  When I see a man with an umbrella, I am immediately thinking "uh oh.., breaking the code." The Puka shell necklace makes me cringe, but I think I would have gotten there on my own.  Kenny Chesney, take note.

Kenny, fire your stylist.
I have been taking a straw poll and have found that all men seem to have their own list for manly manliness. A google search was ablaze with lists, sites, even books! They include some and none of these above listed elements.

Some of the other noteworthy items include:

 - Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. EVER. Issue closed.
 - Never use eight words when four will do.
 - Do not listen to "***** music" such as Erasure, Color Me Badd, or Oldies (no idea what the stars mean)

Other crazy lists....
International Rules of Manliness
Man Stuff - Rules for Manliness
Return to Manliness - Yard Beer (this one just made me laugh)

Now, before anyone gets offended, these are Special Agent's rules. For HIM. He isn't trying to impress his rules upon anyone else. However, if he sees you in a restaurant, with a gold bracelet on (drinking sweetly out of a straw) you're going to get the eyebrow (There is some flexibility for Europeans, who can rock this look.) But your choices are all yours. But know, he is internally making fun of you over chips and salsa. It isn't nice. I know that. Pull up your big boy turtleneck and get on with it.
*                      *                    *                   *                      *

My Research About Research..You Heard Me

I like to look things up.

Go on, and say it...I am a know-it-all. As Johnny Cash would say, "Well, maybe I am..".

If a question is posed and no one knows the answer, it just sort of hangs there heavy in the air, waiting to dissipate. Many just wave the air away like a bad smoke ring and move on. For me, no answer to the question means I JUST DON'T KNOW. And we can't have that.

I will look up anything anyone wants to know, with the exception of pipe bomb construction or porn (although I did have to research Playboy for an article once). Pretty much everything has an answer that can and must be found. When it can't, it bothers me immensely. Even when it isn't my question, it still bothers me. Botherbotherbotherbother botherbotherbotherbother.. The answer is SOMEWHERE...if we only just look for it!

Bing, you suck.

I have researched breastfeeding legislation, after market drunk driving prevention devices, command codes for an R2-D2 and so on. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment to put a lingering question to bed like a sleepy baby. The introduction of the Blackberry has is both a blessing and a curse. I can access information anywhere and everywhere, but i can also access information ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE. :-)

Once I start, I have trouble stopping. I have OCD of research.

My Swami Pema would sigh and remind me that there isn't an answer for everything, nor should there be an answer for everything. Some things we just aren't meant to know. Yet, my compulsion lingers. So..what do you want to know? I can Google it for ya.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaning into the Sharp Points


I am not a Buddhist. Truthfully, I am not even a Methodist. I am a subscriber to things that speak to me, make me think, and help me learn. So there. No need to call out for an exorcism. 

Pema, before (note sweater for later)

Pema now...

I have my own what if she doesn't know it? Her name is Pema Chodron. Some of you might have seen her on Oprah. I appreciate that she is a Buddhist nun, but she is also a mother and has been a wife in her past. Twice. She taught elementary school (and I think I have a sweater just like the one in her before photo). I like my female role models to have some perspective on the real things that happen in the life of a wife and mother (Can Oprah say the same?, she cannot.).  We (Pema and I) have our sessions together randomly, and mostly on YouTube....FREE-OF-CHARGE...

A few years ago when I met Pema in her book, "When Things Are Difficult", she told me that hope had no place in my world. WHAAAAAT?  In this time where HOPE is the new buzzword? As in "I HOPE I don't get laid off", "I HOPE I can find a job soon so I can pay my rent?", "I HOPE no one realizes I have no idea what I am doing..", etc. How discouraging...

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world."
Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

I read these words myself during a time when I kept hoping that things in my tiny corner of the world would improve and was trying to impatiently wait it out. So, this was a downer of a thought initially.  However as I read further I came to see that she meant that it was a waste of time to spend hard days *HOPING* that things would get better in lieu of just accepting that things weren't good right now, may not be good for a while, and that there was nothing logical that I could do to speed up the course of the hard time except bear it until it was over. She called it "leaning into the sharp points". Pema told me that being happy and comfortable all the time were not what made us the people we become in our lives and that no bumps on the path mean no growth for the person. Well, fine then.

"…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are."
Pema Chödrön

At that time, I mustered up my strength and leeeeeeeaned in, stopped telling myself it would get better soon, (or, even worse, my mantra that I was FINE..) and truly bore the hard times until the day when I realized I had leaned THROUGH the sharp point until it's tip no longer pierced me. It was really freeing, actually. My hard times changed me and I learned a lot about what I wanted from myself and my life in that period. I added those lessons to my li'l book of tricks and carried them along my way for the next bump in the road. 

But I fail to look through my book of tricks often, and I am still trying to FIX things. SOLVE things, even for others. *sigh*. I really feel that if Pema really cared about me, she would move in with me and help me overcome having to SOLVE things and FIX problems and use logic as my favorite emotion.

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart."
Pema Chödrön

I am trying, Pema. I really, really am. 

Get your Pema on...

"Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look."
Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Helicopter Crashed and Burned

The end of the helicopter Mom

I don't think of myself as a "helicopter" Mom. I mostly see the office staff of my children's school when I am bringing in forgotten violas and lunch money.  I am a relative unknown at the school my children attend, which is why I became PB Elementary's enemy #1 yesterday.

I created a lot of drama after I was seen watching my son's recess from the hill above the playground. I learned today from another parent that due to someone "watching recess", the school officials had all of the kids go in early, and called the 5-0. Sigh.

My young son has been having the usual trouble kids have at school where there is one kid they really don't want to play with, who in turn tortures them so that he can continue to participate with them in some way. This has turned into a game of one sided tag, where the one kid is constantly the chaser, and my son and his friends are the ones who are chased. I suspect this boy does not want to chase them instead of play, and I know my son is tired of being chased. It's a sad situation, and I think it is becoming routine. I don't think continuing is kind behavior on the part of my son, but I also am not certain that he feels he has any choice. So.....

I sat on the grassy hill at the park above the playground yesterday to catch a little of post-lunch recess. It SEEMED harmless enough, and it was a nice day.

Failure # 1: I did not inform the school that I planned to do this. I didn't tell them because I thought it was embarrassing to be helicoptering about in such a manner. Had I know I would cause this level of trouble to them, and heightened embarrassment to myself in the long run, I would have.

I watched as the kids ran out, and searched for a kid with untied shoe laces, pants that are just a tiny bit too short (and unzipped) and no jacket to run by. Sadly, there were many who fit this description. How in the world would I be able to tell what was going on way up here?

Failure # 2:  As I gathered my sunglasses to head out the door, I ran across my son's binoculars. Yes, I brought them. I'm no spring chicken, and besides, I'm thorough.

I finally spied my golden boy, locked in a bear hug from behind by the chaser. Because I had binoculars, I could see that he was not enjoying this bit of play and was trying to get away. He squirmed away and said something to the chaser. I was hoping he was telling him what I had suggested, which was to stop chasing him, that he didn't want to play that game, etc. However, with no audio....I had to guess. The kid went elsewhere though, so I felt there might be some success.

Then, as I suspected... the worst of the worst happened (not the the Police, although I am sure they were being alerted about now).  I saw my son's buddy approach the chaser, who was hanging on his own behind a play structure, and talk to him.  My son walked up about then. The friend talked to the chaser a little more and then turned and ran.  And so did my son. The chaser, of course, chased. My boy and buddy were egging it on!! (The golden boy told me later that he had asked the chaser if he liked to chase them, and the chaser nodded. Hmmm. I am doubting he does.) I leaned back against the tree in disappointment.

Failure # 3:  When leaning against the tree, I stuck the back of my hair into a gob of tree sap. Unlike my pride, it is still there today.

I thought the recess seemed like it ended quickly, but since I don't spend a lot of time at school, I had no idea of the time frame. To my horror, I learned today that because of me, and the playground monitors watchful eyes, my actions made the playground monitors nervous, and thus made the kids go in early. The school called the Po-po. And put the teachers on alert. Just because of little ol' me. And my binoculars.

To say I am mortified would be an understatement. I had to call the Principal and tell on myself today. He was very nice about the whole thing, and had suspected it was someone's crazy Mom.  He didn't say crazy, but was surely thinking it. As I explained my reasoning for scaring their staff half to death, my grand plan sounded sillier and sillier to my own ears.

The FAA called, and I think my helicopter has been grounded.